“Ma, you already said that!” “Ma, you gotta calm down,” exclaimed co-winner Mark Smith of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, to his mother Betty Smith when the ProFantasyRodeo staff recently drove to their home and presented them with the $20,000 for picking the winning team for the 2005 season. Mark stated that although he had heard about ProFantasyRodeo a year ago, he didn’t pick a team until this year when his junior high aged son Clay received a flyer from the National High School Rodeo Association naming it as a fund raiser. Although Mark went 50/50 on the entry fee with his mother, it was his sons 14-year old Clay and 12-year old Jake who said they actually picked the winning team. Since their entry was postmarked on the last possible day to receive entries, the Smiths didn’t have much confidence they had a chance. The excitement of following their team during the 10 days of the NFR was even more gripping for the Smiths since they don’t own a computer. Relying on information from a friend staying in Las Vegas who religiously followed the teams at www.ProfantasyRodeo.com, they learned on the final day that their team had won the average. The team chosen by the Smiths consisted of Kelly Timberman in bareback riding, Cash Myers in steer wrestling, Steve Purcella and Britt Bockius in team roping, Billy Etbauer in saddle bronc riding, Cody Ohl in tie-down roping, Zack Oakes in bull riding and Kelly Kaminski in the barrel racing with a combined winning total of $70,3449.46.
Said Betty, “I’m so excited – I’ve never won anything!” Clay, however, enthusiastically announced, “I just knew we were going to win.” Winning is nothing new for Clay, his brother Jake and 4-year old brother Britt and is yet another story. Named after famed team ropers, Clay O-Brien Cooper, Jake Barnes and Britt Bockius, the boys are roping legends themselves. Beginning to rope at the age of 2, Clay at 14 has won two trucks and a trailer and garnered cash in excess of $40,000 – so much that the IRS actually investigated his winnings. Clay recently won his first National Shoot-Out roping for the USTRC. Not to be outdone Jake has won nearly as many saddles and buckles as older brother and between the two they’ve accumulated more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. By age two, Britt had won two buckles and has since won a saddle at the tender age of four when most kids are just learning to pick up a rope.
All three Smith boys have competed in the dummy roping held in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas each December. Clay has placed in the top five each year, Jake has won it twice, placed second twice and placed in the top 5 three times while Britt is beginning to claim his share. The entire family, Mark and wife Tammy, his mother and father Betty and Vernon and the boys have been on hand for the dummy roping for the past 11 years with the boys taking home the lion’s share of winnings.
Mark Smith remarked that before the boys began to compete, he and his family were the types that didn’t venture further than 100 miles from home, but that has all changed. One of their greatest adventures was an appearance in 1998 on the Jay Leno Show when Clay and Jake at ages 7 and 5 were invited to showcase their roping expertise after Leno’s staff heard about their fame as winners of the dummy roping competition in Las Vegas. Featured in publications such as the Paint Horse Journal and the ProRodeo Sports News, they’ve also increased their exposure with a website at www.jakeclaybritt.com where descriptions and photos of their competency abound.
The Smith home is adorned with evidence of the boys’ achievements, and the basement is filled with over 25 saddles, buckles are encased in the display cases and photographs appear on nearly every wall. It is a testament to the roping phenomena Mark Smith as a horse/kid trainer has created in his young sons and is proof of what three young boys with determination and drive can accomplish.
With triumphs such as these, is it any wonder Clay and Jake have set their sights on competing at the Wrangler National Finals someday? Given their accomplishments to date, it won’t be a surprise if someday the ProfantasyRodeo entry form gives fans an opportunity to pick Clay and Jake Smith as a winning team. But Grandma Betty will no longer be able to claim she’s never won anything before! When ProFantasyRodeo paid out $109,000 in winnings to go-around and average winners this year, she and son Mark grabbed the largest check of all along with the title, ProFantasyRodeo Champions!